MOSCOW, February 28. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a phone call on Friday, during which they hashed over the implementation of the agreements on Syria’s Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov informed.
"Today, a phone call between presidents Putin and Erdogan has been held at the initiative of the Turkish leader. The talks were detailed. They discussed the need to do everything possible to implement the original agreements on the de-escalation zone [in Idlib]," he said.
Putin and Erdogan also allowed the possibility of holding new contacts on Idlib at different levels. "A possibility was discussed to shortly hold necessary contacts at this or that level. Literally an hour-and-a-half ago, reports came that the Russian and Turkish negotiators who worked in Ankara yesterday and the day before yesterday, had agreed to continue work today," Lavrov informed.
Tensions in Syria’s Idlib escalated once again in the early hours of Friday. Turkey stated that 33 of its military officers had been killed in an attack of the Syrian government forces. In response, Turkey struck over 200 Syrian military targets.
The Russian Defense Ministry told reporters that militants of the Jabhat al-Nusra (terrorist organization outlawed in Russia) had attempted to launch a major offensive in Idlib. The Turkish military officers that came under fire of the Syrian military were among the advancing militants, the ministry noted. The Russian Aerospace Forces did not participate in the attack, the defense officials informed.
Idlib is the only Syrian region that has been controlled by illegal armed groups, including the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group, since 2012. A northern de-escalation zone was set up in Idlib in 2017 to give shelter to militants who refused to surrender arms in Eastern Ghouta and Syria’s southern regions. The Turkish army used to have 12 observation outposts in the province. The Al-Mayadeen TV channel reports that in January and February, Turkey has increased its military presence in Idlib. It now has 40 observation posts in the province.